2006 College Leaders Program: Day 12
Jun 8 2006 - 8:39am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 12--June 7
Reported by: Emily Reijmers of Virginia Commonwealth University

    Today I had the humbling opportunity to visit a youth correctional facility. I was shocked at the lack of funding the facility receives. Yet I was comforted by the success stories that were told by the assistant supervisors. Although the correctional facility does not provide large salaries to its employees, there are a variety of people who take these jobs in order to help improve their community. The overall trip to this facility was a reality check. It reminded me how privileged we are to be able to attend college and participate in a program like the Sorensen Institute.
    After the visit to the correctional facility, we went on to the General Assembly in Richmond, where we spent the rest of the day. It was fun to be sitting in the House of Delegates committee room and to imagine what it would be like to have our fellow classmates actually in the House one day. Delegate Jennifer McClellan and Delegate Chris Peace spoke to our class and discussed their experiences as freshmen delegates.
    We were also quite fortunate to hear from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Speaker of the House William Howell, and Clerk of the Senate Susan Clark Schaar. The trip to Richmond was very informative but also a fun opportunity to see state politics at work.
    It was perfect timing to visit the General Assembly as our class is preparing bills and gathering data for the "Mock General Assembly" which we will hold on Saturday. As the program continues into our second week the material and requirements are becoming more challenging each day. It’s going to take a good balance of sleep, eating well, and working hard to survive the rest of this program successfully!

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 11
Jun 8 2006 - 8:18am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 11--June 6
Reported by: Jarrett Ray of James Madison University

Jarrett Ray of James Madison, Anja Davis of Virginia Commonwealth University, Brian Coy of James Madison, and Chelsea Rock of the University of Richmond at the General Assembly building in Richmond

    Dr. Quentin Kidd led today's class, during which we discussed the idea of an "ideal" candidate for political office.  It began with a discussion of the movie A Perfect Candidate and how negative, vacuous, and dreadful the 1994 Senate race between Oliver North and Chuck Robb had been. 
    As we began to generalize about good and bad candidates, a member of our class warned us that by buying into generalizations we have the effect of validating and enhancing those generalizations. Most of us disagreed with that, however. Eventually we came up with the characteristics of an "ideal" candidate (Democrat or Republican) for a gubernatorial race.  The ideal candidates on either side did not look all too different.  The main difference was class distinctions for the Democrats and values distinction on the Republican side.
    After lunch we returned to class to learn about the Virginia Public Access Project, which is an online, searchable database that tracks fundraising by and donations to political candidates and elected officials in Virginia. We considered in detail the fundraising by Tim Kaine, Jerry Kilgore, and Russ Potts during the most recent governor's race.  The rest of the afternoon was spent on random articles that brought up Dillon’s Rule and the editorial leanings of Virginia newspapers.   

--Jarrett Ray of James Madison University

BREAKING NEWS: Virginia's Lieutenant Governor to Speak at Sorensen Blog Summit
Jun 8 2006 - 8:03am

BREAKING NEWS: Bill Bolling, Virginia's Lieutenant Governor, has been confirmed as a speaker at the Sorensen Institute's Second Annual Summit on Blogging and Democracy in the Commonwealth.

The Summit will bring together over 100 bloggers from around the state to discuss a variety of issues related to politics and Internet journalism.

The Summit will be held next week in Charlottesville on Friday June 16 and Saturday June 17.

Click here for more information.

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 10
Jun 6 2006 - 8:51am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 10- June 5
Reported by: Michael Sizemore of Virginia Tech

Chelsea Rock of the University of Richmond, Mike Sizemore of Virginia Tech, and Anja Davis of Virginia Commonwealth University at the Ropes Course last week

    The College Leaders Program rolled into its 2nd week by delving further into state government and hearing the ins and outs of campaign fundraising—as well as seeing Marc Johnson in a t-shirt and shorts!
    Karen Kolber visited the classroom this morning to share her experiences working on political campaigns. We had an insightful and in-depth discussion. Karen is the founder of FFD, Inc., which is a non-profit agency which assists political campaigns in developing successful fundraising strategies. She shared with us her experiences in fundraising for various Democratic candidates, including Governor Tim Kaine, Congressman Steve Rothman (D-NJ), and various Virginia delegates. Her lecture provided great tools on how to fundraise effectively, including everything from identifying prospects to crafting the perfect pitch. In political campaigns money is almost as important as the message, and Karen provided great instruction on how to boost the bank account.
    After lunch, Christie New Craig spoke to the class. She shared her knowledge about being a legislative assistant in the House of Delegates. An "LA" for Delegate John Cosgrove (R-78), Christie spoke of the high level of responsibility and diversity of tasks in being an LA. She also shared several humorous stories of working behind the scenes. For someone who has never been involved in such a role, I can definitely say she sold the idea of working in such a position in the General Assembly very well.
    Following our guest speakers, we continued our Informed Citizen lens with Dr. Quentin Kidd. Today we examined the trends of the Democratic and Republican parties in Virginia history, from the Byrd Machine to the formation of the modern partisan makeups. Virginia political history is incredibly interesting, and Dr. Kidd conveys his knowledge of the topic quite well. Following class, we all break apart for some limited free time and some group work as we begin work on our culminating projects. Tomorrow brings a full day of class time; and on Wednesday, a trip to Richmond to meet with prominent legislators looms for the CLP.

--Michael Sizemore, Virginia Tech



PLP Alumni in the News
Jun 6 2006 - 8:04am


The Reverend C. Douglas Smith, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005, was interviewed for an article about the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, for which he serves as Executive Director. The article appeared today in the Lynchburg News & Advance.

Delegate Shannon Valentine of Lynchburg, also a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005, was interviewed for the article as well.

Click here to read the article

Doug was also recognized recently by his alma mater, James Madison University, as a graduate who is helping to change the world.

RTD Profiles Alumna DeViney
Jun 5 2006 - 10:51am

Mary Loose DeViney, a graduate of the Political Leaders Program Class of 2005, was interviewed for a recent article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about businesses in Charlottesville. Mary is the Vice President of Tuel Jewelers, which her family has owned and operated since 1945.

Click here to read the article.

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 8-9
Jun 5 2006 - 8:25am

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Days 8-9, June 3-4
Reported by: Nancy Funkhouser of the University of Virginia

Nancy Funkhouser of UVA and Lauren Stech of Radford on the floor of the VA Senate

    Unlike most of my college weekends, this past one has been both surprisingly busy and instructive. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many other people—both in interacting with Sorensen's Political Leaders Program (which met in Charlottesville this weekend) and in regards to our guest speakers. I value immensely the subjects which each of our speakers has discussed. They are generous with their wisdom and time, and I am learning a great deal from their experiences in Virginia.
    An observation I made this weekend is how we, both as politicians and experts in our own belief, tend to ask questions with little regard for the visiting speaker and with a slight tendency to prove our expertise. Though this isn't necessarily true for all, it's definitely something I became aware of over the weekend. I will try, for myself at least, to be conscious of this. Yet I remain grateful for the people I have met,  interacted with, and learned from. I hope that our environment here in the College Leaders Program enhances even more in its productivity and focus.

--Nancy Funkhouser, University of Virginia

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 7
Jun 3 2006 - 3:50pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 7--Friday, June 2
Reported by: Andrew Lamar, University of Mary Washington

Brady DeRemer, Andrew Lamar, and Chris Wrobel

    Today the College Leaders Program continued to take a look at Virginia state government.  We began our morning with Dr. Kidd, discussing the next few articles of the Virginia state constitution. There were plenty of interesting discussions with regards to the granted (but limited) powers of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of government.  We spent a great deal of time debating the powers of the governor and whether there should be a one-term limit for the office.  The shift from Byrd Democratic control to now a Republican controlled legislature put the Legislative and Executive branches into a very interesting historical setting.  In addition, we discussed the legislature's somewhat refreshing nature of institutional (rather than political party) disagreements on certain issues such as transportation. It is interesting that the current debate is in many ways how the founders intended it to be.  These discussions comprised around six hours of our class time for the day, and there was hardly a dull moment.
    After lunch today we heard from the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Mr. Gordon Wood, of Brown University.  Mr. Wood answered many of our questions about late 18th-century America, including those about how Virginia's founding fathers would have pictured our society to be today.  He answered questions ranging from the founders' leadership roles and personalities to the historical role of religion in politics.  It was a delight to have such an intelligent American historian share his perspective and stories from our founding era.
    Afternoon thunderstorms finally brought a break from the heat to Charlottesville for the evening.  It is the end of the first five-day week at least, and we can't wait to be in class at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. In all seriousness, we are having a great time with our new friends, and we are learning more than we ever could have expected, from class time to our late night discussions.  The differing viewpoints have taught us all more about the issues we care about so much, and we continue to be excited about the coming days.

--Andrew Lamar, University of Mary Washington

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 6
Jun 2 2006 - 1:20pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 5--Thursday, June 1
Reported by: Lincoln Saunders of the College of William and Mary

Lincoln Saunders and Eric Paulson

Well, we are all moved into Bice Hall now and the program continues to
press on. Today began with an intriguing two-part look at local
government. The first part was lead by Mayor David Brown of
Charlottesville and the Chairman of the Albemarle  County Board of
Supervisors, Dennis Rooker. They both spoke on the forms and functions
of their respective governments. They were also uniquely capable of
discussing how cities and counties in Virginia are able to come up with
innovative ways to pool resources and responsibilities, as well as
areas where cooperation is more difficult.
next speaker for the day was Gary O'Connell who serves as
Charlottesville's City Manager. I personally was surprised during Mr.
O'Connell's  talk by the size and complexity of Charlottesville's
government. It was also intriguing to hear Mr. O'Connell describe the
balance of power between a city council and their city manager.
After lunch we were joined by yet another outstanding speaker, Del.
Steve Landes of the 25th House District. Delegate Landes spoke at
length on his responsibilities as the House Republican Caucus
Director.  He also answered questions on a wide range of topics
including the state budget making process, transportation, and the
displacement of the legislature as the Capital is being renovated.
We spent the remainder of our afternoon continuing our discussion of
the Virginia Constitution with Dr. Kidd. We looked at each article of
the Constitution and dissected them for potential changes. I would be
amiss to fail to agree with the previous posts about the quality of the
individuals involved in this program. Our discussion of the
Constitution only heightened my respect for my classmates. The
innovation and open-mindedness of this group surpasses any organization
I have been involved with in the past. From issues concerning
transportation to taxation to Governor Tim Kaine, all topics are
approached thoughtfully and in a civil manner. Who knew government
boot-camp could be so interesting?

--Lincoln Saunders, College of William and Mary

2006 College Leaders Program: Day 5
Jun 1 2006 - 12:19pm

College Leaders Program Class of 2006
Blog Update: Day 5--Wednesday, May 31
Reported by: Holly Mattocks of the University of Virginia

Lauren Stech (left) of Radford University and Holly Mattocks (right) of the University of Virginia in class at the College Leaders Program

    This morning we were fortunate to be visited by Mr. Dickie Cranwell, the Chairmen of the Democratic Party of Virginia and long time state representative. He spoke passionately about the changing status of civility in Virginia's General Assembly today. He has noticed a definite decrease in the levels of respect and honor in the Assembly-- to a level that he considers unacceptable among statesman in Richmond.
    Afterwards our group headed to the University of Virginia Rotunda to take individual and group pictures before going back to the Cavalier Inn to move our stuff over to Bice dorms. We quickly settled in and grabbed lunch before diving into our culminating projects.
    We spent a few hours this afternoon discussing our ideas for our culminating projects, on issues ranging from SOL's to the "Death Tax." The students had a lot of creative ideas on a wide variety of topics that we feel need to addressed in the state of Virginia. We finished the afternoon by placing our preferences for subjects to be addressed by our projects. Tomorrow we will be placed in groups and really start delving into the issues defining our culminating projects!

--Holly Mattocks, University of Virginia

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Featured Alumni

  • Andy Block.jpg

    Andy Block

    Political Leaders Program

    Class of 2006

    Andy is the director of the U.Va. Law School's Child Advocacy Clinic.

    From 1998 to the spring of 2010 he was the founder and legal director of the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, a program that represents low-income children across the Commonwealth of Virginia.